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Photo and “Best Practices” Contests Focus on Safe Motherhood

Part of the “Safe Motherhood Initiative,” the competitions will promote efforts to reduce maternal mortality in Latin America and the Caribbean

Washington, D.C., March 11, 2011 (PAHO) — The Safe Motherhood Initiative —supported by several groups that want to speed up progress on reducing maternal mortality—launched two competitions designed to raise awareness of the problems that surround pregnancy and childbirth in Latin America and the Caribbean and to highlight effective efforts to address those problems.

The two contests—a photo contest and a best practices contest—were announced by the Regional Working Group for the Reduction of Maternal Mortality and the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) as part of their Safe Motherhood Initiative.

The photo contest will award prizes to the best images that reflect the right of women, mothers and newborns to the highest possible level of health. The best practices contest will recognize initiatives at the local, national and regional levels that have succeeded in reducing maternal mortality and improving care for pregnant women and newborns. Winning submissions will be incorporated into a book on safe motherhood that will be released in November 2011.

The deadline for submissions to both contests is May 15.

The Safe Motherhood Initiative, launched in September 2010, is a call to action by the Regional Working Group, PAHO/WHO, several United Nations agencies, and the ministries of health of the Americas, to accelerate progress in reducing maternal mortality and achieving universal access to reproductive health in the Western Hemisphere.

Although maternal mortality declined nearly 41 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean between 1990 and 2008, the region still has far to go to achieve a 75 percent reduction by 2015, as called for in the Millennium Development Goals.

More than 3 million pregnant women in the Americas go without prenatal care, just under 3 million give birth without skilled medical attention, and some 15,000 die from pregnancy-related causes each year, according to estimates by WHO, UNFPA and the World Bank.

The Safe Motherhood Initiative seeks to make maternal health a responsibility of the entire community.

“The goal of this initiative is to promote and protect the right to the highest attainable level of health for women, mothers and newborns,” said PAHO Director Mirta Roses.

The contests announced today are intended to mobilize civil society in Latin America and the Caribbean to help raise the profile of safe motherhood on the political and policy agendas, and to document and disseminate best practices so they can be shared among countries.

PAHO was established in 1902 and is the world’s oldest public health organization. It works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of the people of the Americas and serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).

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